We all would love it if our children just sat quietly and kept on task, but the reality is that their little minds and bodies need a lot of help regulating themselves. And, while we have the luxury of getting up and walking around if need be during the day, children have a lot of rules at school that they need to follow. Fortunately, exercise can keep kids focused. Here’s how.
When you exercise, your body releases endorphins. These hormones literally make you a happier person. Have you ever noticed that while it can be hard to start an exercise routine, after a workout you just feel a bit more positive and even happier? The same happens with children. They get the benefit of endorphins and their mood lifts. And when children are happier, they are usually better able to follow directions and not complain.
The need to fidget
Children’s muscles are constantly growing. Children are becoming more aware of their body and what it can do. As a result, children are prone to fidgeting. Sometimes it’s just a bit of toe tapping, and sometimes it’s more disruptive like jumping around. With exercise, children are given the license to move their bodies as much as possible. It allows them to practically fidget non-stop and work out any muscle kinks they may have developed. Exercise can keep kids focused because it gives them the outlet to be physical, so they don’t have to constantly try to regulate themselves.
Make it fun
The one rule to remember with exercise and children is that it should be fun. While adults have programmed themselves into thinking that an aerobics class is the only way to move, kids like to play. Incorporate games such as freeze tag, what time is it Mr. Wolf, and hopscotch into the day. Exercise can keep kids focused and the beauty is that it doesn’t have to be a long session. Even a 5 minute exercise break and give children the outlet to be themselves.
If you need your child to be on task for a period of time, start them with a bit of exercise. Have them engage in some fun jumping jacks, or even some modified yoga. Even a quick round of Simon Says is a good break. Then, transition into quieter time. The transition stage is the hard part, especially if kids are really enjoying their active play time. But explain the expectations ahead of time and give plenty of warning for when the transition will occur. The more prepared you are for your child, the better they will be able to regain their focus.